We started seeing this with the Reason/Rupe poll almost two weeks ago, which Sean Trende insisted wasn’t really an outlier. Barack Obama’s approval rating started sliding in Gallup, and last week Reuters had him at 43%. Today, the Washington Post reports that Obama has lost five points in approval in their latest poll, with the most significant decline in his economic policies:
The afterglow of President Obama’s reelection and inauguration appears to have vanished as increasingly negative views among Americans about his stewardship of the economy have forced his public approval rating back down to the 50 percent mark, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
In December, just after he won a second term, Obama held an 18-percentage-point advantage over congressional Republicans on the question of whom the public trusted more to deal with the economy. Now, it’s a far more even split — 44 percent to 40 percent, with a slight edge for the president — but the share of those saying they have confidence in “neither” has ticked up into double digits.
As one might expect, it’s the middle that has shifted:
Obama’s overall job-approval rating stands at 50 percent, down five points from before he took the oath of office in January. Looking along partisan lines, the slippage since then has been particularly pronounced among political independents. Two months ago, independents tilted clearly in his direction, with 54 percent approving and 41 percent disapproving. Now, half of independents express a negative opinion of the president’s performance; just 44 percent approve.
For those keeping track of sample demos, this one’s a D+8 at 33/25 — probably about the same split as the election last November, at least in practical terms. That’s close to the same split as their last few polls, so this probably isn’t a sampling artifact. The movement in the other polls corroborate the trend. Gallup shows Obama above water too, but down to 49/44.
As I’ve written before, this is the outcome from attempting to incite hysteria over a small reduction in the rate of increase in federal spending. While the respondents in this poll view the sequester cuts negatively, the split isn’t that wide at 39/53. Almost three-quarters (73%) have felt no impact at all from the sequester, and only 25% report a major negative impact. And while 64% believe that the cuts will have a net negative impact on the economy, only half of those believe it will have a major negative impact.
In fact, Gallup’s poll from yesterday finds confidence rebounding after the sequester cuts went into effect:
Americans’ confidence in the economy improved last week after it was shaken during the debate in Washington about the budget sequestration. Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index improved to -17 from -22 the prior week, when the budget sequestration took effect. Still, last week’s score is nine percentage points lower than the five-year high reached in early February.
That would be, of course, about the time that Obama launched his Nightmare on Sequester Street campaign to scare Americans about the ruin that would occur if federal spending was reduced 2.3% after having it rise 37% since 2007. The level now in Gallup’s poll is still significantly higher than it was when Obama declared that “the private sector is doing just fine” last June, when it hit -26.
Given the history of Obama’s approval ratings, I wouldn’t expect this to last a long time. It is, however, a reminder that there is a price to pay for screaming that the sky is falling when it’s barely even cloudy.